Investing in New Customer and Brand Initiatives for 2020, Essilor of America Slims Work Force

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DALLAS—Essilor of America (EOA) is poised to launch a number of major products and programs in 2020. The company’s plans, part of a multi-year growth strategy, include “breakthrough innovations” in all of its brand categories, a continued evolution of its prescription lab network, and “the modernization of ECP practices through new digital technologies," EOA president Rick Gadd told VMAIL in an exclusive interview yesterday. However, funding the planned growth required EOA to trim its 8,200 employee workforce by approximately 1 percent across all EOA business units, Gadd said. EOA management announced the job cuts, which are effective immediately, at an employee town hall meeting yesterday at the company’s headquarters here.

“These actions are not taken lightly, said Gadd, adding, “A lot of thought went through this. And quite honestly, the rationalization we came to is that the market is changing pretty rapidly. I think we can all acknowledge that, between the market consolidation activities going on, certainly consumer choice across multiple channels that they’re being served through—whether that’s through e-commerce, or private practice and retail—and the continuing evolution of managed vision care, things are evolving in our industry. We need to ensure we're investing in our future and to do that, unfortunately, we needed to take some actions that impacted people in order to free up some investments for 2020 and beyond.”

Gadd emphasized that the moves are unrelated to the integration of EOA parent company with Luxottica, a multi-level process that is currently underway.

Essilor will unveil innovations in its three flagship brands, Varilux, Crizal and Transitions in 2020 as well as promote its proprietary Vision-R 800 and AVA (Advanced Vision Accuracy) refraction system, Gadd said. Additional resources will be devoted to a further expansion of EOA’s Columbus, Ohio prescription lab, which is located adjacent to one of its major distribution hubs. That lab, as well as EOA’s Omega lab and others in its nationwide system, is being equipped with new systems developed by Satisloh, the lens processing technology company owned by EOA’s parent, Essilor International.

EOA will also invest in further modernization of eyecare practices in order to create what Gadd called “a fluid consumer journey.” In particular, the company plans to implement new digital technologies such as an automated patient booking system primarily through its network of about 5,000 Essilor Experts, which are independent eyecare professionals who are specially trained to explain the benefits of Essilor lenses. Referring to the relationship between patients, Essilor Experts and EOA, Gadd called it “a true ecosystem.”